Corey Kluber – There are a lot of good pitchers going today, but Kluber stands out from the pack. He has the best matchup in my opinion, and has been great in his last 5 starts. In those starts, he has 40 IP 31 hits allowed, 3 walks, and 59 strikeouts. He is averaging 1.5 strikeouts per inning in those starts, and that’s with Kansas City and the Cardinals being a part of those stats. He has a little bit higher ERA than most of the other studs at 3.61, but that was due to a three start stretch in early May. On the year he has 84 IP in 12 starts so he is averaging about 7 innings on the year, and that is with being limited by pitch count in the first few starts like all pitchers. He is very comparable to Scherzer in the sense that he can pitch deep into games. Scherzer may not give up as many hits, but pitching at Yankee Stadium, turns me away from him although I expect a good game from him. Kluber however, gets to pitch at home against a Mariners offense which has been disappointing other than Nelson Cruz. They have the 4th most strikeouts in the MLB with 476 and are tied for 27th in the MLB with a .237 AVG. Not only that, but their splits against righties are even worse than those numbers suggest (.229 AVG/.292 OBP/.375 SLG), and are striking out 26% of the time against righties (388/1497) vs. just 20% against lefties (88/434). Their HR rates are also way down against righties as well. The Indians are at -195 tonight, so they expect the Indians to win and for the game to be low scoring (7 run line). I fully expect Kluber to push double digit K’s as well as pitch deep into the game, which is exactly what you want from a pitcher at this price.
Matt Shoemaker – I thought about Anibal Sanchez here, but then I remembered his last start and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Shoemaker reminds me a lot of Sanchez this season, in that he is striking a good amount of people out, but is giving up a ton of HR. He doesn’t quite walk as many guys which helps, but overall they are very comparable. At an affordable price, Shoemaker has struck out 53 guys in 56 IP which is still solid. He has given up 13 HR in those 56 IP though, with 5 of those coming on the road in 31 IP. He is going against the Rays today who have the 25th best batting average with .239 and have struck out the 8th most in the MLB with 460 of them. The Rays are tied for 13th in the majors with 54 HR’s so they do have some pop, with an even amount coming on the road and at home. Their home run rate is much lower against righties than lefties however (2.4% vs. righties, 3.6% against lefties). With these mid-range pitchers, you are looks for guys than can explode for massive games, and Shoemaker could definitely do that against the Rays tonight.
Stephen Vogt – Vogt has really struggled as of late with only 1 hit in his last 6 games, but his price has dropped because of it. He is still among the leaders in batting average, home runs, and OBP for catchers which makes him an attractive pick any day. Today, he is going against Nick Martinez who is one of the cheaper pitchers on the slate, and is coming off his worst start of the year. He has a respectable 2.89 ERA and has pitched well against left handed hitting (.218 AVG/.290 OBP/.345 SLG line). I still think he has been a bit lucky with a pretty high WHIP, and the lack of strikeouts he gets. Vogt, however, has been pretty darn good against right handed pitching this year. He has a line of .292 AVG/.389 OBP/.569 SLG with 10 HR in 130 AB’s. He does only have 3 of his 11 HR at home, but he is getting on base 42.5% of the time at home so it looks like he has a different approach. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martinez have another start like his last one, and an A’s stack could be a sneaky good pick.
Matt Weiters – Not a huge price difference between Weiters and Vogt, but I don’t think he has quite the upside Vogt has. Weiters has been great in his 3 games since he returned from injury, tallying 5 hits, 1 HR, 3 RBI’s, and 3 runs which is really good. He has always had power, it’s more been his average and OBP that has left something to be desired. He is going against the lefty Eduardo Rodriguez who has been really good even though I doubted him the whole way. He has only given up 5 hits in 14.2 innings, which is amazing, but that pace can’t be kept up for an extended period of time. Since Weiters only has those 12 AB’s this year, I went back to look at 2012-2014 stats. He has a line against lefties of .297 AVG/.353 OBP/.530 SLG with 18 HR in 317 AB’s. He only had 32 HR in 836 AB’s so the HR rate is much higher against lefties as well as the average and on base percentage. Caleb Joseph wasn’t bad in Weiters spot, but Weiters adds much more offensively to the lineup. The Orioles haven’t been as good offensively this year as I would have hoped, but getting him back in the lineup should pay dividends for the rest of the year.
Anthony Rizzo – I really like this matchup until Anibal can prove to me that he is the pitcher of old. This year he has given up 13 HR’s with 5 of those coming to lefties and 9 of them coming at home. That’s as many as he gave up the last 2 years combined, but something is obviously wrong with him this year. He has been decent against left handed batters only giving up a line of .228 AVG/.311 OBP/.403 SLG which isn’t too bad. Rizzo, on the other hand, has been awesome this year and I expect him to keep getting better and better. Against right handers, he has a line of .308 AVG/.420 OBP/.604 SLG with 10 HR in 159 AB’s. Rizzo does everything so well, it makes it easy to pick him. As you can see, he hits for a high average, can walk a lot (25 walks in 159 AB), has some speed on bases (10 SB), and has 33 runs on the year. Now obviously you are looking for the HR out of him which he has proven he has; you are also looking for those extra points as well though because nobody can hit HR’s every night. Bullpens also have to weary about the lefty on lefty matchups with his great splits against them. I love Rizzo as a player, and he is the catalyst to that offense, even if Kris Bryant gets most of the hype.
Lucas Duda – There aren’t a ton of great matchups for value first basemen, but Duda I believe is the one guy where you can save a little and still get a prime matchup. He is going against the righty Chris Heston, who has had bad starts in 3 of his past 4 outings. He has had his problems with left handed hitters giving up a line of .308 AVG/.357 OBP/.504 SLG with 5 HR in 117 AB’s. His road numbers are also pretty poor, giving up 18 ER in 28 IP with 5 HR allowed, and a .274 AVG against him. Moving on to Duda, he has been better against lefties, but has still posted a line of .247 AVG/.362 OBP/.445 SLG with 5 HR in 146 AB’s. While I would like the AVG and HR totals to improve a bit, he is still getting on base at a great rate, and giving himself chances for points every night. He has also been great at home, with a line of .308 AVG/.419 OBP/.635 SLG with 7 HR in 104 AB’s. These are more of the numbers I get excited about as that line is really good for a pretty affordable 1B. The Mets have been quite the surprise this year, and while a large part is their pitching, guys like Duda, Granderson, and Cuddyer also have to be mentioned for the turnaround.
Jose Altuve – I still love Altuve and his lines against left handed pitching. I was weary to pick him against one of the best lefties in Sale yesterday, and he still had 2 hits even though Sale dominated the rest of the lineup. Today should be much better going up against Carlos Rodon, who has good but inconsistent stuff. He has 35 K’s in 34 IP, but also has 35 hits allowed with 22 BB’s. That is not going to sustain a 3.12 ERA for very long, and gives me lots of optimism for Altuve. Right handed batters are putting up a line of .277 AVG/.382 OBP/.361 SLG against him with only 1 HR. The good thing for Altuve once again is that he doesn’t rely on power to put up great stats. Against lefties, he has an amazing line of .394 AVG/.457 OBP/.507 SLG with 7 SB in only 71 AB’s. He also has 9 runs in those AB’s so he is doing basically everything that you can ask for other than HR. While for his price HR’s would be nice, if he is able to get on base a couple times, steal a base, then score a run, he can basically make up for that. Those lines are just too good to pass up on, and I expect that Astros to bounce back after yesterday.
Ben Zobrist – Like Vogt, he has been a massive cold streak which means he will likely be low owned today. There is no doubt that he has had a down year overall, but I believe a large part of that is due to injuries and for all I know he could still be hurt, but I’m willing to take that chance. He is also going against the righty Nick Martinez who pitches better against lefties than righties. Zobrist is a switch hitter who bats a better as a righty than a lefty so maybe he will just take the righty on righty matchup? I doubt it but you never know! I looked at Zobrist’s 2012-2014 numbers against righties, and they are much better than this year. He had a line of .262 AVG/.362 OBP/.420 SLG with 34 HR and 27 SB in 1213 AB’s. He has proven that offensively he doesn’t excel at anything, but can do everything pretty well. He is likely going to be trade bait for later in the year, and I would think that he would want to improve that value. Again, I like Zobrist and an A’s stack more in GPP’s because they will be low owned, but will come with some risk as well.
Troy Tulowitzki – He might be expensive, have a poor matchup, and likely be highly owned today, but he is still the top shortstop today with his massive hot streak continuing. He has 17 hits in his last 8 games, with 5 HR in that span, 14 RBI’s, and 10 runs. Needless to say, this is the Tulowitzki that everyone knows and loves. Now obviously these numbers can’t be sustained forever, but he is seeing the ball wonderfully and taking advantage of every pitcher coming into Coors. Wacha is a great pitcher with only 1 HR allowed in 127 AB’s against righties with a line of .228 AVG/.256 OBP/.283 SLG. Tulo has really raised his lines against righties and at home which were far worse a couple weeks ago. The thing for me is that no other shortstop can really do what Tulowitzki can when he is on. Peralta does have more HR than him this year, but I don’t think that will continue for the whole year. The pitching matchup may be a bit risky, but when a guy is on like Tulo is right now, it makes it really tough to fade him for any reason whatsoever.
Jose Iglesias – Iglesias is a super cheap SS who puts up an insane line against lefties, so I think he should looked at by everybody. He has a line of .442 AVG/.489 OBP/.605 SLG with 1 HR in 43 AB which is incredible considering his price compared to other shortstops. Sure, he may not have a ton of power, but other than the top few shortstops, who does have a lot of power. Now the only problem is that if he isn’t batting 2nd, he is usually 8th or 9th, but with those stats, I would imagine Ausmus bats him 2nd. He is going against Jon Lester who hasn’t been bad this year, but I think Chicago expected more for how much he is being paid. Lefties are mashing Lester while righties have a respectable line of .255 AVG/.306 OBP/.415 SLG with 7 HR in 212 AB. His road ERA is also almost a full run higher on the road which helps Iglesias. I don’t expect HR’s from Jose, but if he can get on base a couple times, score a run or two, and steal a base, he will be a wonderful play.
Josh Donaldson – I normally like spending up on Donaldson when he is going against left handed pitching, but with the other top 3B not having great matchups, and Dan Haren struggling on the road, I see a good game for Donaldson tonight. Against right handed pitching, he has a line of .286 AVG/.351 OBP/.534 SLG with 12 HR in 189 AB’s. His home numbers are also great with a line of .364 AVG/.385 OBP/.719 SLG with 11 HR in 121 AB’s. The Blue Jays as a team have been on a tear recently, winning 6 straight and outscoring their opponents 46-16 if I remember correctly. They are doing this without Edwin Encarnacion, and even without him that lineup is daunting. Dan Haren has great stats this year, but has roughly a 4.50 ERA on the road compared to a 2.00 ERA at home in comparable innings. While he has given up 8 of his 11 HR to left handed batters, 11 HR shows me that the long ball isn’t out of the question for anybody. Donaldson has been putting up MVP type numbers this year, and if he continues at this pace, he could very well win it.
Yasmany Tomas – The Cuban rookie is having a great rookie season, and is living up to the hype for which he signed. Tonight he is going against the righty Carlos Frias, who is one of the cheaper pitchers on the slate, and has been pretty average all year long. Starting with Tomas, he may not have a ton of power for a 3B (1 HR this year), but he makes up for it with a great overall line against right handed pitching (.345 AVG/.377 OBP/.422 SLG). While I would like some more walks and have that OBP around .410, you can’t complain with a guy getting a hit roughly 1 in 3 AB’s. The Diamondbacks actually have a pretty good offense led by Paul Goldschmidt, and the ever improving A.J. Pollock. Those two guys are also getting on base at a super high clip, so opportunities will arise for Tomas. Lefties are the ones doing the damage of off Frias this year, but his home splits have been horrible. He has allowed 16 ER in 23.1 IP with 33 hits and 8 walks in those innings. Tomas should have the ability to put up a big game tonight, even without the HR power.
Giancarlo Stanton – I really love this matchup against Mark Buerhle tonight, and I think Stanton has a great chance at hitting a HR. Buerhle is a crafty veteran, and is good at working his way around a hitter, but any mistake he makes can be crushed. He has pitched better at home and against righties this year, but matchups aside This is a great opportunity for Stanton. Righties are still hitting with a line of .279 AVG/.309 OBP/.418 OBP with 4 HR in 208 AB’s. Again those aren’t very inspiring, but it takes one pitch with Stanton. He has a line against left handed pitching of .263 AVG/.341 OBP/.763 SLG with 5 HR in 38 AB’s. That SLG% is simply insanse, and he is averaging a HR every 7 AB’s against left handed pitching. Hitting in Toronto tonight certainly helps him as well with 11 of his HR coming on the road this season. Stanton is a stud, there is no doubt about it, and having a great matchup against Buerhle regardless of how poor the Marlins offense is outside of him.
David Peralta – I’m almost positive that he will be playing tonight as he looks mostly like a platoon hitter that goes against right handed pitching. He has a great matchup tonight against Carlos Frias, and he may pitch well against righties (going against Tomas), against lefties is a whole other story. They have a line of .379 AVG/.431 OBP/.500 SLG against him which is really poor, and then his home numbers as I mentioned are not much better. Peralta as mentioned is a platoon hitter who has ugly numbers against lefties, but against righties he has a line of .280 AVG/.341 OBP/.508 SLG with 5 HR in 118 AB’s. He does have a little power as you can see, as well as the ability to get on base 34% of the time. His home and road splits are pretty even so there isn’t much to see there. I expect the Diamondbacks to score some runs tonight, and I hope that guys like Peralta and Tomas can help do some of the damage.
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